Fernando Alonso rejects rumors of McLaren deadline, buying Marussia

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Ahead of this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso has once again faced a number of questions about his future as his plans for the 2015 season continue to be widely speculated.

The Spaniard is set to leave Ferrari at the end of the year to make way for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, with McLaren his apparent destination.

However, Alonso is thought to only want a one-year deal with the team in order to open up the possibility of a move to Mercedes for 2016 if Lewis Hamilton were to fail to extend his contract.

Reports in the British press this week suggested that Alonso had been given a deadline by the team, being told to make a decision before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

Alonso rejected this story though, as well as another wayward one that suggested he had bought struggling backmarkers Marussia for a dollar.

“I don’t think there is any deadline to do anything,” he explained in Brazil on Thursday. “One week it’s McLaren saying something, last week it was Lotus and Lopez saying he was in talks about me and my future.

“Every day there is a rumour. Even today I read that I had bought Marussia for one dollar. It’s absolutely not true!

“It’s the same thing always, but the most important thing, as I said in Japan, is that two or three months ago I took a decision and followed that decision and direction and hopefully you will know soon.”

In Austin last weekend at the United States Grand Prix, Alonso said that he had an “ambitious plan” that was in the works, suggesting that there could yet be more to his future than just McLaren.

However, as we near the end of the season, Alonso will need to make his decision public sooner or later, even if he does not have a firm deadline to work to.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”